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Video premiere: The Silver Lake Chorus cruises empty L.A. streets in blissful take on Aimee Mann's 'Easy to Die'

Video premiere: The Silver Lake Chorus cruises empty L.A. streets in blissful take on Aimee Mann's 'Easy to Die'
The Silver Lake Chorus. (Christine Bartolucci)

In the new Silver Lake Chorus video for "Easy to Die," the Atwater Village-adjacent group cruises the lonely boulevards of the city while delivering an ethereal take on Aimee Mann's grim ballad.

First released for the chorus' 2015 self-titled album, the work has been remixed by the Nashville guitar duo Hammock, which added washes of ambient noise and warm texture to accompany the chorus' grand harmonies. The version is taken from the Silver Like Chorus' new album of remixes, "Remixes."

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"The song struck us like a drunken cosmic singalong for the dearly departed," the members of Hammock  wrote of their remix, via email.

"Such a haunting beauty in hearing a heavenly host sing about the struggle of living with or knowing someone caught in the throes of addiction. We feel privileged to have been invited to participate in the process."

Our first reaction to this remix was overwhelming love.


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The instrumental duo of Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson, who released their new album, "Everything and Nothing," in the spring, channel their instruments through layers of effects to create often epic musical statements.

"Our first reaction to this remix was overwhelming love," said Heather Ogilvy, who sings soprano with the Silver Lake Chorus. "The freshly inspired instrumentation takes the emotional thread from our original recording and weaves it into a dreamy landscape, shining light on each vocal line. It's just gorgeous."

Musically, the Silver Lake Chorus' harmonies are some of the only evidence of human life in the quiet clip. The group, whose director is Mikey Wells, is indeed a chorus, and released its self-titled debut album in 2015. It features songs written by artists including  Sia, Tegan and Sara, Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), the Flaming Lips, and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), many of whom wrote exclusively for the project.

The video for Hammock's remix of "Easy to Die" traces a day in and around the eastern edge of downtown Los Angeles. As dawn moves to dusk, cameras roll through underpopulated streets at off-peak hours, and the group sings darkly rendered lyrics about the suddenness of death that might have been penned by Edward Gorey.

Mann's song was inspired by a friend's overdose, she said in an interview with Kurt Andersen's radio program "Studio 360," and she described the Chorus' take as being "like two ghosts singing from beyond the grave." Added Mann of the lyrics, "It's got that atmosphere of, like, 'I'm taking the easy way out. I'm not doing the work like these people.' "

The director of the video, Gina Kelly, said via email that when choral director Wells contacted her and asked her to select a song, "I fell in love with the phrasing and arrangement of 'Easy to Die' pretty quickly. I chose to work with long cuts to emphasize the mood of the song, and the bridge system in downtown L.A. and surrounding areas just seemed to naturally support ideas of transition: life to death, form to abstraction."

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